Sophomore Spotlight: Tyler Myers

Meet Tyler Myers, a sophomore from Camp Hill, PA, who is currently in the Wake Washington Program. In addition to double majoring in politics & international affairs and history, Tyler’s involved in everything from Student Government and Alpha Kappa Psi to Deacon Camp and College Republicans.

Of himself, Myers says, “If I’m not studying in Scholars Commons or debating fiscal policy in the Tribble Courtyard, you can find me at the Reynolds Gym where I’ll likely be running like a mad man.”

Interviewing Myers gave Her Campus the opportunity to learn a little more about the Wake Washington Program, Myers’ political views and everything D.C. has to offer for young professionals.

Her Campus: Why were you interested in the Wake Washington Program?

Tyler: Our nation’s capital is the epicenter of the American experiment. Politicians, lobbyists and citizens alike debate the issues of the day and craft meaningful legislation aimed at improving the well-being of the American people. When I was first told that Wake Forest was opening the Wake Washington Center, I was thrilled. It is the dream of most Politics and International Affairs majors to work on the Hill and to surround themselves with the policymaking process. The Wake Washington Program affords any Wake Forest student the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of D.C. and network with the countless Wake alumni within the area. The networking opportunities and real world experiences of the Wake Washington Program were major factors that encouraged me to spend a whole semester in D.C.

HC: What does your daily schedule look like?

Tyler: Typically, we have classes on Monday and Wednesday nights and intern Monday through Thursday. The two courses being taught are Terrorism & Asymmetric Conflict (POL 255) and Intelligence & International Politics (POL 267). Both courses are taught by Professor Brister who is an incredibly intelligent and elusive man.

Jennifer Richwine, the Executive Director of the Wake Washington Center, organizes several activities for us on Fridays including field trips to governmental institutions like the CIA, FBI and the Pentagon. In addition to field trips, we attend lectures and networking events aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the knowledge we are acquiring in the classroom.

This semester offers students a glimpse into the balance between a professional and social life. Although our schedules are demanding, it is a very good indication of adulthood and teaches us how to transition from life as an undergraduate to life as a young professional.

HC: Who are you interning with?

Tyler: I’m currently interning for Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania. As a moderate Republican, Senator Toomey embodies many of the values held by the people of Pennsylvania. Personally, I’m a very rare breed in Washington, D.C. I’m a Catholic, pro-choice, gay Republican, so you can imagine the looks I get. Many people don’t understand how I rationalize being a gay Republican but I don’t know how much more rational it could be. In my opinion, policies regarding illegal immigration, monetary policy and international relations have a much greater influence on my life than being gay in America. Unless the United States government starts arresting gays like in Chechnya, I will continue to believe that my sexual orientation should not have any influence on my political affiliation.

HC: How do you like the internship so far?

Tyler: It’s certainly an eye opening experience. As a legislative intern, I am responsible for drafting memos on a wide range of policies, assisting senior staffers with policy research, and undertaking a series of administrative duties. One of those duties includes answering constituent phone calls. Since I started my internship during the partial government shutdown, most of the callers were very hostile. In my first week, I was called a “state sponsor of terror,” “heartless monster,” “Russian operative,” and many more colorful names. Regardless, my work on behalf of Senator Toomey and the people of Pennsylvania is very enjoyable.

HC: What are your goals for this semester?

Tyler: This semester I want to broaden my social network, engage with the cultural treasures of Washington, D.C., and deepen my knowledge of the legislative process. Many people are not aware that D.C. is home to a vast number of Wake Forest alumni and I have been blessed to meet many of them during my first few weeks. These alumni are working in the public and private sectors and have offered such a wealth of knowledge to myself and the other Wake Forest students. Moreover, this city is filled with many cultural opportunities which I do not have access to in Central Pennsylvania. For example, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and National Gallery of Art are filled with historical importance. It is my goal to capitalize on the opportunity to explore the countless museums and cultural centers throughout the city.

Lastly, I came to D.C. to learn more about the ways in which policymaking develops into legislation which affects the lives of millions. After only two weeks, I have already been exposed to negotiations between Democrats and Republicans regarding immigration reform, policy briefings on healthcare, and efforts by Senator Toomey and his staff to introduce legislation which seeks to prevent any future government shutdowns. I’m very confident that I will be able to achieve my objectives and hopefully surpass them.

HC: Tell me a little about D.C.! What’s your favorite thing you’ve done there so far? What’s been difficult about being there?

Tyler: Living in Washington, D.C. is outstanding. There are exceptional restaurants, very well-dressed men who would make great husbands, historical landmarks, a vibrant nightlife, and much more. Although I’ve only been in D.C. since the beginning of January, I have already been able to do so much. The city’s public transportation makes any part of the city easily accessible. One of my favorite things I’ve done was exploring Georgetown with a few friends. The students and campus of Georgetown University are equally gorgeous. You can smell the money and the prestige. Whether we were having a photoshoot in the streets of Georgetown, shopping in stores we could not afford, or dining at Martin’s Tavern, which was the spot JFK proposed to Jackie, my friends and I loved every moment in historic Georgetown.

The most difficult thing for me was adjusting to city living. Since I was born and raised in a very small town in Central Pennsylvania, I did not have much exposure to larger cities except for the occasional trip to Philadelphia. Within my first few days, I learned that I’d need to be more aware of my surroundings and figure out the Metro system. While the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. is overwhelming, I have made the adjustment and feel right at home.

HC: Have you meet any noteworthy politicians yet?

Tyler: As I mentioned previously, I am a Republican so I was absolutely shocked when I ran into Senator Mitt Romney in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. It was the second day of my internship and I was walking down to the Senate’s equivalent of Campus Grounds to get a cappuccino. As I was turning the corner onto a basement corridor of Russell, I noticed a well-dressed man walking towards me. He was flanked by two staffers and I immediately recognized his face. It was Mitt Romney. Very casually, I said, “Good morning, Senator,” and he replied, “Good morning.” You can imagine my excitement. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee had spoken to me. It was a quick and meaningless moment to Senator Romney but an impactful one for me. It highlighted how lucky I am to be working in the United States Senate. Most people never have the opportunity to work on the Hill or talk to a man who almost became the President of the United States, but I do.

HC: What do you miss most about Wake?

Tyler: The people. I miss Darlene in the Pit, Precious at the ZSR Starbucks, the brilliant Wake professors, and most importantly, my beloved friends. All of these people make Wake Forest University so unique and welcoming. If it wasn’t for the people of Wake Forest, the campus would lack its vigor. When I decided to participate in the Wake Washington Program, I knew I would be leaving so many people behind. Some of the best friendships I’ve found in my first 20 years of life have been formed on the Reynolda Campus. Whether it was in Collins Residence Hall, the Scholars Commons of ZSR, or on Hearn Plaza, I have the fondest memories of my friends. Leaving the place where I have fostered so many outstanding memories was daunting but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to form new friendships. There are only 16 Wake students in the Wake Washington Program so naturally we have all grown closer together. We have complained about our internship duties, procrastinated readings on the terroristic tendencies, and explored our new city together. When this semester ends, I know that I will have at least 15 new friends and I’m very grateful for that.